Applicants for settlement visas to enter the UK as the partner or spouse of a British Citizen or UK permanent resident are now provided with a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP), a wallet-sized plastic card confirming their right to live and work in the UK. Upon arrival in the UK, the visa holder will need to collect the BRP within 10 days, or the vignette (which is the temporary sticker in a passport required to obtain the BRP) will automatically expire. Penalties may be payable if the BRP is not collected within the required time frame and this failure may even result in the visa being rescinded.
Settlement applications from outside the UK have 30 day vignettes, so it is important to time the arrival in the UK carefully to be within the time window. Until the end of July 2015 there are some exceptions depending on the applicant’s nationality, but as this will apply worldwide by 1 August 2015 it is certainly sensible to allow for the time restraints when applying for a UK partner or spousal visa and planning to travel. Another 30 day vignette may be issued on the payment of £122 but it is important to remember that all biometric information will need to be resupplied, although another UK settlement visa application is not necessary. The UKVI vignette (entry clearance) and the accompanying decision letter are both essential for entry into the UK and must be shown to immigration officers on arrival so anyone entering the UK must carry both in hand luggage and not pack it in hold bags which will not be accessible before going through immigration.
When applying for a UK settlement partner or marriage visa online, up to three UK post codes which represent the Post Offices from which the BRP can be collected will be selected based on the addresses on the form; the address of the UK sponsor and the applicant’s address during their stay. If post codes provided by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) are inconvenient the Post Office can be changed, on payment of a fee. When collecting a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP), an appointment is not required, but the Post Office will only be able to issue the BRP if the proper UKVI vignette and the accompanying letter are provided. After ten days from arrival have elapsed and the BRP remains uncollected, the visa connected with it may be cancelled and there may also be a fine to pay. Until the BRP has been collected, it is the advice of the Home Office that the applicant does not leave the UK.
If problems arise in collecting the BRP within the ten days because of lost details or missing paperwork, for example the accompanying decision letter, help can be obtained by emailing the Home Office BRP team – this can also be used for other enquiries. On receipt of the email, the Home Office aim to reply within five days. It is possible to have a representative collect the BRP, but extreme ill health or being under eighteen and unable to collect a BRP with a parent or guardian are strictly the only reasons accepted and no exceptions will be considered.